Getting Ready to Get Ready

I love taking trips. I have an adventurous spirit and enjoy exploring new places. But one of the things I have learned about myself is that while I love taking trips, I revel in planning the trip as well. According to Myers-Briggs, I’m an ISTJ and structure and organization are a part big of my personality type. Getting ready energizes me.

This past week has been a rich one. Typically, the Sunday after Thanksgiving is the first Sunday of Advent, but because Thanksgiving this year was as early as it can possible be, the season of Advent doesn’t begin until this Sunday December 2. This has provided me the time and space to get ready to get ready.

While I am not ready to go as far as Mark Roberts and call myself an “adventophile,” with each passing year I find myself more appreciative of the four week season that the historic Church has carved out to prepare herself for the coming of Christ. One of the resources that has helped me live more deeply into the liturgical year is a book by Bobby Gross entitled, Living the Liturgical Year: Time to Inhabit God’s Story. Gross reminds us that Advent means “to come” or “to arrive” and this season invites us to consider the arrival of Jesus in three different tenses:

  • Christ First Coming (Past)
  • Christ Second Coming (Future)
  • Christ’s Coming into Our Lives (Present)

What does it mean to look back at Christ’s birth, look forward to His return and create space for Him in our everyday, ordinary lives? How does this story shape and form us both individually and as communities of faith?

On Monday I had the opportunity to spend 40 minutes with John Hall and Kathy Emmons from WORD FM talking about Black Friday, Cyber Monday and the season of Advent (my segment begins at the 22.00 minute mark). One of the things we talked about was the significance of cultural liturgies (thanks to James K.A Smith for introducing this concept to me). Black Friday and Cyber Monday are cultural liturgies, practices and rituals that narrative our lives. “I shop, therefore I am” is the tagline of consumerism. And these practices suck us into a particular story that shapes and forms (or perhaps more accurately deforms) our identity.

The historic Church has set aside a four week period to story the people of God with a different narrative.  A story that reveals that we are deeply loved and that God so loved this world that God intervened into the sin and brokenness of it all, in a holy infant, the Word made flesh, to redeem, reconcile and make all things new.

As Len Sweet tweeted, “Advent means more than “coming;” it implies arrival of something new. Are we disposed to receive something new this Advent season?” My prayer this Advent season is that God would enlarge us, that we would be open to the new work that God wants to do in us, with us and through us. That we might all find the space for Christ to be enlarged in us. And in our waiting we might find both hope and joy.

The Apostle Paul wrote about the potency of pregnancy and I love how Eugene Peterson captures it in The Message:

All around us we observe a pregnant creation. The difficult times of pain throughout the world are simply birth pangs. But it’s not only around us; it’s within us. The Spirit of God is arousing us within. We’re also feeling the birth pangs. These sterile and barren bodies of ours are yearning for full deliverance. That is why waiting does not diminish us, any more than waiting diminishes a pregnant mother. We are enlarged in the waiting. We, of course, don’t see what is enlarging us. But the longer we wait, the larger we become, and the more joyful our expectancy. (Romans 8:22-25)

How are you getting ready to get ready for the arrival of Christ in your life and in our world?

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